- WSL / Marcio David

Contrary to the forecast, Saturday provided a bright blue sky and warm weather which attracted a huge crowd to Praia Mole for Day 4 of the LayBack Pro presented by Prefeitura de Florianópolis. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) once again surpassed the event's scoring records with another stellar performance. In addition, the list of Men's and Women's WSL South America qualifiers for the 2022 Challenger Series is on the cusp of completion. Finals Day is set for an 8:00am start on Sunday to finish off the second edition of the LayBack Pro.

Rodrigues is one of the 10 Men's surfers that has guaranteed his qualification for the 2022 Challenger Series. At Praia Mole, Rodrigues has been on a rampage, earning excellent scores in the 9-point range with seemingly effortless ease. On Saturday, he maintained his consistency with scores of a 9.00 and an 8.50 for a 17.50 total, the highest of the event so far.

"I'm feeling great, and I feel I'm prepared for the Challenger Series. It's like I flip a switch and get in the zone, ready for whatever may come," said Rodrigues. "I don't even think about who else is in the water, I just focus on myself. I think I've reached a phase where I have more balance in life. I feel more mature now that I'm a father, as a person and as an athlete. My confidence is on another level and feel like my surfing is unbeatable. Plus, I surf here at Praia Mole every single day, regardless of the conditions. Whether I'm practicing airs, lefts or rights, onshore or offshore, I think it prepares you well for a contest and I'm stoked that there's a contest at my home break," declared Rodrigues.

Michael Rodrigues Michael Rodrigues - WSL / Marcio David

Rodrigues will now face Wesley Leite (BRA) in the Quarterfinals. Leite has also qualified for the Challenger Series, the definitive pathway to the WSL Championship Tour.

Several scenarios for qualification were on the line today as a number of athletes needed to move up in the rankings to guarantee their spot on the list of 10 Men's athletes from the WSL South America Region. A mix of heartbreak and exaltation ensued, with the likes of Thiago Camarão (BRA) and Jesse Mendes (BRA) not making the cut, while surfers such as Matheus Navarro (BRA) and Santiago Muniz (ARG) celebrated their achievements onto the CS.

"When God has a plan, there's nothing that can change that. I've never been in a situation like this in my entire career, where I was depending on someone else's results to know my outcome," said Navarro. "I'd prefer to settle it in the water, but I ended up tying with Jesse in the rankings, and I ended up qualifying into the Challenger Series from the tiebreaker from the last few events. So, I feel like it was fate, it was just meant to happen and hopefully I can do well on the CS and finally make my dream come true and make it to the CT one day."

Matheus Navarro Matheus Navarro (BRA) has qualified for the 2022 Challenger Series. - WSL / Marcio David

The final list of Men's athletes from the WSL South America region that have qualified for the 2022 Challenger Series are: Alex Ribeiro (BRA), Willian Cardoso (BRA), Eduardo Motta (BRA), Michael Rodrigues BRA), Wesley Leite (BRA), Marco Fernandez (BRA), Raoni Monteiro (BRA), Robson Santos (BRA), Santiago Muniz (ARG) and Matheus Navarro (BRA).

Santiago Muniz Santiago Muniz (ARG) has also clinched a spot on the 2022 Challenger Series - WSL / Marcio David

At the Women's QS 1000, the Semifinalists have been determined at the LayBack Pro. Defending event winner Laura Raupp (BRA) sneaked past Kiany Hyakutake (BRA) in the dying seconds of their heat to keep her dreams of a repeat alive at Praia Mole. Raupp will now face Daniella Rosas (PER) in Heat 1 of the Semifinals. Raupp and Rosas have already guaranteed their spots onto the 2022 Challenger Series, as has the recently crowned 2021/22 WSL South America Regional Champion, Sophia Medina (BRA).

The last spot on the regional list of qualifiers for the CS has yet to be determined. Currently, Arena Rodriguez Vargas (PER) holds the last position, but has already been eliminated from the LayBack Pro. The only surfer that can overtake her is the Hawaiian-Brazilian surfer Summer Macedo (BRA), who needs to win at Praia Mole to clinch the remaining spot.

"The conditions today are just like my spot at home, so I know my strengths and used that to my advantage in the heat today against Sophia," said Macedo. "I was super happy for her winning the Regional Title and I know I need to win here if I want to make it onto the Challenger Series. I know the difficulties I'm faced with, but I feel prepared mentally to confront those challenges. I've been competing at CS and top tier QS events since I was 16, so I feel I can use that experience in my favor. I love Brazil and all the support I receive here, so regardless if I make the cut or not, I know I can learn from the experience and improve mt surfing. So if it's not this time, it'll be soon," added Macedo.

Summer Macedo Summer Macedo - WSL / Marcio David

The LayBack Pro presented by Prefeitura de Florianópolis presents is brought to you by the Santa Catarina Surf Federation (FECASURF), Agência Esporte & Arte (AEA) as co-organizer and is licensed by WSL Latin America as part of the WSL Qualifying Series. The event is sponsored by Metha Energia, with support from BOLD, SIBON Charters, Goedert Group, Hotel Selina, The Search House, the Florianopolis Municipal Sports Foundation and the City of Florianópolis, through the Department of Culture, Sports and Leisure, in addition to the Praia Mole Surf Association (ASPM) and website Waves. The broadcast is produced by FIRMA and can be watched LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com.

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